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What Happens When You Leave the Camera Behind

I’m a terrible photographer. Just ask anyone with eyes who has seen my pictures. I don’t center. I cut off body parts, and my thumb is an inadvertent star of many shots.

And then I pout about not being in the picture.  See? I’m fun!

But I can’t help it. As a parent, the pressure to preserve the memory! Get the shot to share with the grandparents! Home movies that the kids will enjoy for years! is tremendous. And what makes it worse is that it comes from within. I want to get the shot. I want to relive the memories. I want documentation, in media format, that we had a great time, and OMG, why did you move?! That would have been a killer shot. GET BACK IN THE FRAME!

It’s just too much stress. And it makes things that should be fun less fun. Focusing on the camera takes me out of the scene, at least temporarily, just long enough to take the shot, frown at it and take another. But in those moments, I am no longer having the experience. Instead, I am documenting it. And I hate that.

I grew up in the Soviet Union in 70s. Photographs were rare and black and white, so my memories are not documented. But they are vivid. And I wonder if part of the reason is that I didn’t have photographic props to boost it.

When my son and I went fly fishing in Montana this summer, I snapped a few photos with my iPhone. And they’re ok. But what really stays with me on that day was how still everything was, how focused we both were on the water and the casting and trying to spot the fly. (Hey, we’re novices!) I remember how beautiful the day was, what it felt like to wade into the stream and balance so that we wouldn’t slip on the rocks, how we stood a few feet apart from each other and felt so grateful that we had this day, and the time to do something together.

I have those images in my heart and sometimes when my son and I are together, I’ll ask if he wants to try fly fishing again and he’ll say “yes!” immediately. And I like to think that in those moments, he’s remembering what that day was like too. And I hope those memories, even largely undocumented, last forever.

For more of Marinka, visit her personal blog Motherhood in NYC and The Mouthy Housewives and follow her on Twitter.

More on Kid Scoop:

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